Scranton Mfg. to be featured on Nat Geo
By ANDREW MCGINN
If you’ve ever wondered why Scranton Manufacturing named its line of New Way garbage trucks after species of venomous snakes, check out the video on YouTube of its rear-loading Cobra Magnum slowly digesting a Pontiac Grand Am.
In its entirety.
Never before has a car resembled a hapless rodent so much.
“I thought, ‘This is a little crazy. I’m not sure we want to do it,’ ” confessed Jim Ober, Scranton’s vice president of operations.
Then he saw it.
“It’s just amazing,” he said. “I had no concept of how much it would crush it up.
“It didn’t quite sink in until I saw the car sitting in the back of the truck.”
The stunt last summer ended up going viral.
Fittingly, that video came to the attention of the National Geographic Channel, which ended up tapping Scranton Manufacturing for its new series, “Showdown of the Unbeatables.”
“That got our name in the mix,” Ober said of the viral video.
Scranton Manufacturing — along with one of its ever-hungry garbage trucks — is scheduled to appear on the show at 8 p.m. May 23.
In November, a Nat Geo crew came to Scranton to shoot footage at the company’s plant, which is about to break ground this spring on a $2.5 million expansion.
Scranton Manufacturing personnel traveled to Los Angeles for the main event — a death match against another company’s supposedly indestructible product.
The series, which premiered last week, highlights American companies and pits their powerful products against each other.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a rock breaker take on a safe or a flamethrower go up against a fire truck, here’s your show.
A Scranton-made garbage truck will be pit against a custom carrying case made by the Calzone Case Co.
“It never hurts. It’s all about exposure,” Ober said.
(Seriously, though, did Calzone not see the video of the Grand Am?)
Needless to say, this is a good time for Scranton Manufacturing, founded locally in 1971 by CEO John McLaughlin, his brother and a friend.
They’ve come a long way in those 43 years.
New Way, which Scranton Manufacturing purchased in the ’80s, became the first American garbage truck on the streets of China.
A year ago, New Way gained a presence in Russia as well.
Scranton Manufacturing’s other subsidiaries include Bowie International, which manufactures mobile veterinary clinics, and McLaughlin International, which makes holsters used by law enforcement and the military for pepper spray and mace.
In 2009, Scranton bought Hurricane Motorsports, which produces the Hurricane 427 Roadster, a kit car replica of the iconic Shelby Cobra.
But it’s New Way that threatens to outgrow the company’s current space.
The 56,000-square-foot expansion is projected to add upwards of 75 new jobs in response to growth in the New Way line, which includes more than 30 models of refuse and recycling trucks, according to Ober.
Scranton currently employs 180.
“The expansion has capabilities far from what we need today,” he said.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority on March 28 awarded $250,000 in direct financial assistance to Scranton Manufacturing that will create 50 of those new jobs at $13.82 an hour.
Like most companies, Scranton experienced a downturn between 2009 and 2011, Ober said.
“Now it’s firm,” he said. “We’ve regained everything we’ve lost. It’s looking good.”
The expansion should get under way later this month or early next, Ober said.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I’m losing a little bit of hair over the deal, but between the growth and new products coming out, it’s all good.”